Vin Vino

  • Restaurants
  • Cafes & Teahouses
  • Bars
  • Wine Bars
15 Nongzhanguan Beilu
Beijing has a love-hate relationship with wine bars – occasionally we love them, but more often than not we love to hate them. Scant on value and service we avoid them in place of craft suds that afford more of a homegrown feel. Defiantly hard-to-find Japanese-French izakaya-bistro wine bar Vin Vie has long rejected this trend, tempting us with superior juice, delicious chow and charm to spare. And now, after flying under the radar for years, the team behind Vin Vie have decided to branch out with a project more on the main drag.

Our abiding love for Vin Vie – and that red wine-miso braised beef tendon – compelled us to visit the new digs, but we didn’t expect lightning to strike twice.

The new concept is two-fold: by day it’s a quiet neighbourhood café slinging cheesecake (28RMB), sandwiches (58RMB) and third-wave coffee (38RMB); but by night the ice buckets come out and samovars get stowed as the space transitions into a tapas and wine bar.

vin vino coffee

The decor of the newly appointed space is simple and clean.Hardwood tables and benches are perfect for sipping and swirling but it’s not the sort of place we imagine settling down for a cup of premium java and a book – café by day it maybe, but it’s plain to see the heart is in the wine bar. Unsurprisingly, the evening vibes are more consistent with the overall style of the place and as the tapas starts flowing from the kitchen, things begin to pick up.

The wine list at Vin Vino is eclectic with a slight preference for things French. A nightly barrage of wines available by the glass offers plenty of room for sampling (from 40RMB; bottles from 200RMB). With sips coming more easily than tasting notes from the staff, it’s easy to get your feet wet without committing to anything too serious. For the vino adverse, a Galician gin and tonic from the wine cocktail list sports a hefty pour of the stunningly aromatic Nordes gin (60RMB).

The tapas menu is equally flexible, picking and choosing from Japanese, French, Italian and Spanish elements, to varying degrees of success. Although a bit of a mess for tapas, the mushroom salad with garlic and anchovy (38RMB) is a hit, with salty goodness and earthy flavour in abundance, while the baked daikon radish risotto (58RMB) is all mess and no redeeming flavour. Fried breaded horse mackerel with shiso mayo arrive golden and hot from the fryer, a perfect match for a glass of the Shanxi-grown People’s Chardonnay (40RMB). House-marinated olives (25RMB), assorted pickles (25RMB) and red wine-spiced figs (28RMB) are fine snacks for a few glasses of vino with plenty of hearty plates – like the Galician fried octopus and potato (58RMB) or the fried beef and pork meatballs (48RMB) – which can be scaled up to a full-sized meal.

vin vino front

The space lacks some of the lived-in charm of Vin Vie but with ample seating, standing room at the bar and a wealth of delicious tapas, Vin Vino is one more very good reason to drink wine tonight.

By Nick Gollner

Venue name: Vin Vino
Contact:
Opening hours: Open Tue-Sun 9am-5pm (cafe); 6pm-1am (wine bar)
English address: First floor, Donggong Beili, 15 Nongzhanguan Beilu, Chaoyang district
Chinese address: 朝阳区农展馆北路枣营北里15号